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by Queen Games
Play Time: 10 minutes
You and your companions are wandering through the lush Mayan Frontier when you stumble upon a hidden temple. You light your torch and journey into the deep maze of hallways and chambers, getting dizzy with disorientation. You reach the epicenter of the temple maze when you hear a voice in the darkness call out “ESCAPE!” and then the madness begins. Your troupe must explore their way back out of the primitive labyrinth before the cursed tomb doors lock you in forever. You have very little time so your team will have to work together to map your way out and gather sacred gems to aid your escape. Desperate to flee the cursed temple you finally burst through the exit with your life. But don’t be fooled! To truly escape the dark curse you must also help pull your teammates out of the rubble and into safety as well -- no man can be left behind!
What’s really unique about Escape: The Curse of the Temple is the ‘real-time’ gameplay. In case you’re not familiar with what that means (I wasn’t), there are no turns, everyone plays at the same time. Did you just gasp? Because I did when I heard that. “What do you mean?” I asked Hayden. Well, that means there are three rounds that last about three minutes each and everyone is rolling their dice simultaneously to navigate through the temple maze. “But how do you keep track of the time?” you may ask. Well that is the most interesting part of this game... it has a soundtrack! Ok so you may not have gasped before but now I know you’re having a hard time catching your breath.
Escape is played with 1-5 players, with the optimal being 3 or 4. There are combinations of dice that can cause you to become immobile and the only way for you to escape the trap is to have one of your comrades come rescue you. This part of gameplay is the most frustrating yet exciting because you have to come together as a team to make sure you're never leaving one of your fellow players behind. This can become difficult if your teammates are far away or (in the case of playing by yourself) nonexistent. No judgment if you do play this by yourself though....
Rounds last 3 minutes, so it may give you that wind-blown sensation -- when all is said and done the entire game will be over in less than 10 minutes. The resulting adrenaline rush makes this game incredibly addictive and you can easily play this game over and over without noticing the time flying by. The short rounds also make it perfect as an ‘appetizer’ game if you plan on playing another, longer game as a 'full course' later.
The game is most difficult to pick up during your first round because of the soundtrack. That really took some getting used to but once you know what you're listening for the audio cues are pretty clearly pronounced. You'll notice the gameplay is challenging but finds a perfect balance between “This is a cake walk” and “I’m about to rage-flip this table over”, so you’ll find it’s easy to pick up though not so easy you lose interest.
Escape has awesome artwork; it reminds me of the board game version of Temple Run (the iPhone game I blame for skipping so many classes in 2011). Whip up a Mayan Mocha for good luck and an ultra-caffeinated spin of the dice (great recipes here: http://www.baristaexchange.com/forum/topics/favorite-mexican-mocha-recipe). Play with ‘That Guy’ that yells and screams a lot. This may sound like the worst possible type of person to play with, however it becomes REALLY entertaining to see a grown man squirm and panic.